UMass Amherst Scientists Collaborate to Understand Animal Migrations with $533,000 NSF Grant

The movements of all animals are affected by their need for resources, and in particular, food. Where and how grazing animals move often depends on where the best vegetation resources can be found, and how predictable this food is from year to year. Some ungulate species with predictable environments (caribou in Alaska and wildebeest in Africa, for example) migrate seasonally. Other species (gazelles in Mongolia, for example) appear to make large-scale, long-range movements that are seemingly unpredictable. This “nomadism” likely occurs when the availability and location of resources vary considerably by season and by year. The National Science Foundation has awarded UMass Amherst’s Todd Fuller and Craig Nicolson $533,000, and their collaborator Bill Fagan at the University of Maryland College Park another $147,000, to make sense of these seasonal and annual movement strategies for individual gazelles in Mongolia (new field studies) and caribou in Alaska (historical data). The researchers will combine theoretical computer models and landscape-scale satellite images of vegetation with...
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Graduate student, Brad Timm, receives Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation Environmental Fellowship

Brad Timm, PhD student in wildlife and fisheries conservation, has just been awarded the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation Fellowship. "The programs of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation are dedicated to investing in individual leaders who will be driving positive environmental change and to supporting projects that will have measurable positive results on environmental quality for natural and human communities. The goal of the Switzer Environmental Fellowship Program is to support highly talented graduate students in New England and California whose studies are directed toward improving environmental quality and who demonstrate the potential for leadership in their field." Brad Timm's current research is focused on ecology and conservation of the Eastern spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus h. holbrookii) at Cape Cod National Seashore.    ...
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Graduate student, Jennifer McCarthy’s, Atlantic Salmon research highlighted

Article from "In the Loop" Fish scales from Norway yield clues to ocean fate of Atlantic salmon Since 1983, sports fishermen from the Drammen River in Norway have been saving the scales of Atlantic salmon, caught as they return from years at sea to spawn in fresh water. A team of researchers, including graduate student Jennifer McCarthy, is using these scales to solve the mystery of why most of these endangered fish never survive their ocean stay. “North American populations of Atlantic salmon have crashed, and European stocks are also declining,” says McCarthy, who is pursuing her Ph.D. student in Natural Resources Conservation. “Growth rings on the scales of fish from European stocks indicate that late summer conditions in nursery areas in the Norwegian Sea are less favorable for the survival rate of young salmon.” Climate change may be one of several factors affecting this temperature sensitive species, bringing warmer water to the nursery areas and decreasing the numbers of small fish that...
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Graduate Student, David Stormer, mentoring future UMass Dartmouth student

Graduate student, David Stormer, recently assisted Caitlin McGarigal (Professor Kevin McGarigal's daughter) in applying for an American Fisheries Society 2008 Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program summer scholarship and she got it! David will be mentoring her this summer and her scholarship work will include juvenile bluefish feeding ecology, and energy dynamics. She will also be participating in one of the NOAA summer cruises. Caitlin is finishing up her senior year at Amherst High School and has committed to Umass Dartmouth in the fall....
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